Buying fresh produce was easier than ever in 2007.
Farmers' markets were the shopping experience du jour across Pinellas County, where markets sprang up in St. Pete Beach, Gulfport, Treasure Island and St. Petersburg.
Existing markets in Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor, St. Petersburg and Palm Harbor continued to thrive and expand.
The bounty of locally grown oranges and cucumbers reflects a trend nationwide.
There were fewer than 1,800 markets operating in the United States in 1994 when the U.S. Department of Agriculture began keeping track of farmers' markets. Last year, that figure had more than doubled, to about 4,400 markets.
In Tampa Bay, some markets thrived while others struggled.
A market at St. Pete Beach's community center in July had to be moved after organizers had a tough time attracting customers.
But in St. Petersburg, the appetite for fresh food attracted more market organizers. The city hosted at least four markets in 2007, including a new one at Ferg's Sports Bar and two new ones at Williams Park. An existing downtown market reopened in October.
Joan Waller, 45, of St. Petersburg said the diversity of markets has made it easier for her to fill up her fridge with fresh food.
“I like the idea of eating something that hasn't been frozen or driven across the country in a truck," said Waller, who frequents the downtown St. Petersburg market.
“It's also nice to come out and say hi to people. You run into all your friends."
Cristina Silva can be reached at (727) 893-8846 or firstname.lastname@example.org.